The network is awash with articles about the future of work, or rather the lack of it. They remind me of the kind of wish fulfilment think pieces I used to read about how the internet was going to change the world for the better. It did indeed change the world but not in the ways any of the pundits had predicted.
I sense something similar now as I scroll past yet another article on Utopian Realism, Universal Basic Income or hi-tech P2P agrarian self sufficiency. I see it a little differently and somewhat more darkly.
Those who need money the most will have it removed from their lives completely. The basic needs of food, shelter and warmth will be provided by corporate services. Vouchers for food and simple goods from, say, Amazon and a functional, maintained dwelling from some other trans-national corporation. It might just as well be an entity like Google since they already have all your other data, they might as well enclose the rest of your waking and sleeping life.
Locked down items of technology with pre-installed applications and ubiquitous connectivity for continuous surveillance are provided and replaced immediately if discarded or broken.
Transportation, if you ever go anywhere autonomously or otherwise, will be provided by vouchers from an Uber-like company as will some rudimentary healthcare should you have the audacity to fall ill. Education will be optional, voluntary and indistinguishable from YouTube. The higher needs like security, relationships and self-determination are not recognised.
We will receive these services in return for pretty much whatever the corporations want us to do at any given moment in time. It might be harvesting our attention one day or having us clean a dwelling block the next night. The differentiation between work and free-time will disappear and our entire existence will be farmed in one way or another, over and over again.
Unusually, the terms of service are quite clear and unambiguous. We are not obliged to undertake any of the tasks assigned to us, at which point all services and provisions are removed instantaneously.
The corporations will have a 24/7 global army of clickers, scrollers, drivers, cleaners, watchers, cookers, sweepers, wipers, runners, shooters. . .
Corporations will finally own us totally rather than just partially. Their hold over us will be complete. How’s that for post-capitalism?